Every year, wealthy philanthropists donate billions to charities, including environmental and agricultural charities. The Forbes list of 50 top US donors will tell you who some of them are and who received the money. Take a look at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the people who benefit from their donations for just one example out of those 50, and that’s just the US donors.
However, this fact has been overlooked by lots of people on social media who, since the donations started to pour in to pay for the restoration of Notre Dame, are concerned, upset, and even angry that a cathedral should received such immediate financial support when there are still problems like Climate Change, poverty, and hunger to solve.
They question why an ‘icon to imagined reality‘ should receive these funds when there are more worthy causes. The memes talk of tears for a burnt cathedral but ‘no one cares‘ about destruction of rain forests.
In the time it’s taken to write this post several more memes and comments have appeared in Facebook. The theme is the same in each of them
- Why choose old churches when oceans are filled with plastic?
- Why restore buildings when trees are being cut down?
- Why get upset over this building when a species goes extinct each day?
- Why don’t the rich give more to environmental emergencies?
The answer of course is that they are all important but wealthy people have the free will to send their money to those places they choose, even if you think they’ve got their priorities wrong.
And if you do you a little research you’ll find that wealthy philanthropists do give money to environmental charities but it’s so commonplace that it doesn’t make any headlines.
The sentimental posts and articles now appearing smack of the politics of envy and poverty consciousness – the idea that that there’s only a finite amount of wealth so people shouldn’t spend it on restoring cathedrals.
Some people want to take (by taxation or by state seizure) the wealth that a few have generated and spread it around to ‘make things more fair’ for those who have less.
The fact that many of these rich people are wealth generators responsible for creating jobs (and thereby the wealth of others) and boosting economies is not seen as significant.
The millions they pay in tax and the philanthropy they demonstrate seems to be unimportant.
Obviously, some people become rich using unethical business practices or outright criminality, but such lack of integrity or absence of any moral compass is not confined to the rich. You’ll find examples of such people at all levels of wealth and society.
Attitudes To Money
Our whole attitude to money belies this contradiction of, one the one hand, dreaming of lottery wins, making more money by hard work and enterprise, and on the other, envying those who’ve ‘made it’ and who can afford all the trappings of wealth.
Wealth, like love, is infinite. You can generate more or be stuck in the delusion that there’s only so much to go around, and on that path you end up envying and hating the rich for having more than others.
So, you keep feeding the wolf than envies and hates, and that’s the wolf that grows stronger.
You don’t have to like them personally or agree with the politics or lifestyles of the rich but you can save yourself from wasting your time, attention, and energy by questioning their choices when they want to give away some of their wealth.
Instead, try spending that precious time, attention, and energy on activities that might increase your own wealth. Then one day you might be able to step forward and hand over a cheque for £100 million to the fund or cause that grabs at your heart.
If the owners of Louis Vuitton or Gucci or anyone else want to give their money to help pay for the restoration of Notre Dame, a symbol of France’s cultural and religious heritage, then good luck to them.
If Notre Dame is of no consequence to you or worse, you see it as a symbol of something corrupt and depraved, then maybe it’s time to take a look inside yourself and ask if what you see outside is a mirror of what you feel inside.